So there is an out break of a plant disease that started in Australia a couple of years ago in nurseries called ‘Myrtle Rust‘ it affects all plants in the Myrtaceae family and it is incredibly dramatic. It is still about and is moving through our bushland at rapid rate.
These rusts are serious pathogens which affect plants belonging to the family Myrtaceae including Australian natives like bottle brush (Callistemon spp.), tea tree (Melaleuca spp.) and eucalypts (Eucalyptus spp.).
Myrtle rust is distinctive in that it produces masses of powdery bright yellow or orange-yellow spores on infected plant parts. It infects leaves of susceptible plants producing spore-filled lesions on young actively growing leaves, shoots, flower buds and fruits. Leaves may become buckled or twisted and may die as a result of infection. Sometimes these infected spots are surrounded by a purple ring. Older lesions may contain dark brown spores. Infection on highly susceptible plants may result in plant death.
See http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/plant/myrtle-rust for more information.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in some of my favourite native plants becoming totally neglected, people are steering clear of them at an alarming rate and some are just simply not grown at all anymore by nurseries. One of these is Agonis ‘Burgundy’.
Yes, it is susceptible to Myrtle Rust, however I don’t think this is a reason not to try growing it, I have had one in my garden for over 3 years and it is fine.
Agonis ‘Burgundy’ grows to about 3 metres high and 1.5 wide, it has a beautiful weeping habit with deep red new growth and makes an excellent feature shrub or small tree. The above photo was taken in Melbourne and I also noticed how well they grow in Tasmania, I am assuming that the frosts down there are so far keeping Myrtle Rust at bay. If that is the case then hopefully we will perhaps see them re-appear in larger numbers up here on the NSW East Coast where the humidity is higher and Myrtle Rust is more prevalent.
So why not plant one if you can? keep the diversity out there, there may be a percentage chance that it dies from Myrtle Rust but then again it might not and I think the beauty of this plant is worth the risk…. now you just need to find a nursery that stocks them! heehee